What you would recommend for de-icing walk ways for horses?

“I was wondering what you would recommend for those of us in cold weather states for de-icing walk ways for horses. My horse is stall boarded with turn in and out. The path between stall barn and pasture is concrete and ices up in the winter. I’m just curious what kinds of things people use that are safe for their feet.”-Becky G.snowy horse

I generally have used some form of dirt like sand, gravel. I had an indoor arena so I always had access to sand. The idea is that sand adds some grit and the dark color attracts the sun.

When I have been in a location and dirt wasn’t available I have used bedding from the horse trailer or a nearby stall to reduce slipping. It isn’t as pretty but the slightly dirty bedding often works better because it doesn’t blow away as easily. Also if there is moisture in the sawdust it will freeze to the ice which stops it from blowing away and gives it grip.

For places that I was just leading the horses I have used salt also. In theory we give horses salt blocks, so using a safe form of salt shouldn’t be a problem if the horse chose to eat some. You could talk with your farrier and see what his thoughts are concerning your horses feet. If the horse is being lead over the area vs. standing in salt all day I would guess the farrier would view it differently.

I have also known people who put something down before the area ices up such as hay, straw or gravel. The idea is that when the surface freezes the texture or lack of smooth surface will provide some grip.

Whichever method you use be sure to test it with your own feet. Sometimes adding something on top of ice, like straw for example, actually makes it MORE slippery.


  1. Barbara Wade on March 4, 2015 at 11:59 pm

    I use crushed oyster shells. Organic and doesn’t hurt the horses feet or the dogs and cats feet either.

  2. […] I like the snow…at least some snow…but there are a few drawbacks that come with it. Frozen water buckets, wind chill and slippery footing can be an issue (check out my blog: What you would recommend for de-icing walk ways for horses? […]

  3. Haley Sears on December 9, 2014 at 8:47 pm

    My Dad always had ashes from the wood stove for ice it never seems like a little bit of ash allows for so much traction. Because it is darker it absorbs the sun melting the ice instead of reflecting it.

  4. Sheary Londo on December 6, 2014 at 9:40 am

    Barn Lime. Works like a charm. Offers terrific traction. Melts ice better than salt. Won’t kill grass or eat up concrete or wood. Is good for the soil when it soaks in during a thaw. It’s cheap too. I use it where my horses have to walk when it gets icy. I also use it on my driveway when it gets icy. Sometimes it tracks into the house, but, like sand, I consider it “clean dirt”. Our North Eastern WI winters like to pull freeze and thaw episodes, which turns softened snow to glare ice. I used to use sand, but not having an arena meant buying sand. I had no sand on hand one morning after an ice storm and needed to get something down for the horses and for us. I opted to use the lime. I figured it offers good traction on slippery barn floors, why not ice. Work great!!! It’s much cheaper than sand if you don’t have ready access to sand. I have rubber gizmos that slide onto my boots that have little pickery cleats poking out. Gives me great traction when everything is coated in ice, but doesn’t help the horses or visitors….so out comes the barn lime and I throw it all over the place.

    • Tara Farnsworth-Kaczor on December 6, 2014 at 6:07 pm

      I think your idea, Barn Lime is awesome! I agree with everything you said and I have plenty of it. I can’t believe I never thought of it. Thanks for sharing!

  5. Shari on December 6, 2014 at 9:29 am

    I use the free range salt mineral , comes in a bag and its fine if the horses eat it.

  6. Anne Hunter on December 5, 2014 at 10:04 pm

    I have used water softener salt. My thought was I drink it in my water, it should be safe for the horses if they eat it. Used it for three consecutive years, and so far, no problems.

  7. PL Packer on December 5, 2014 at 9:54 pm

    Non clumping kitty litter works well, it’s cheap and I keep a bag in the rig in case I get stuck. Sprinkle it about 1/2 an inch thick, I have also used ashes if there is a wood stove available. Ashes can stain your boots though so I use those as a last resort.

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